Tag Archives: identifying

Seashell collection

Gathering Photos to Compare Seashells That Look Similar

It’s tough to write a seashell blog without photos of seashells.  The best way to have those photos is to take them myself.  This was impossible for me to do when I lived in New Hampshire, where I lived when I began this blog.  Well, not totally impossible.  I had a seashell collection from my 27 years of living in Florida, and I would photograph those shells for this blog.

I could not go out and collect or photograph new finds. I never went to the beach in the eleven years I lived in the North. In summer, beaches in the north are crowded and the water is cold. Parking is a pain, and there are really not many cool shells to find anyway.

When I first began really looking at shells and paying attention to the way they were made, I sometimes had a difficult time telling certain types apart. I had a tiny Lightning Whelk for a long time before I knew what it was. When identifying seashells, we need some good photos to go by. That is one thing I try to provide here on my blog, but I still get confused, or forget the names of shells.

I rely on my seashell books a lot.

Now I can go out and collect and photograph shells. The beaches are close by and we go out fishing and boating and find shells in the backwaters as well.

Seashells That Look Similar Can Have Different Names

Often a shell is easy to identify right away. The Arks are so common around here that I see them everywhere.  You can find these along the beach, in the backwater, at the Inlet, and jetty.  They are heavy-duty shells, which manage to survive rough wave action.

Ark shells

When I collect ark shells I may think they are all the same, but in reality arks come with a variety of names, and only tiny differences separate them.   I need to try and figure out which ones I have.  They also look like cockle shells.

This is true for other shells as well. The scallops, tulips, slipper snails and certain clams come to mind. Each variety has a sub-variety, so I need to be able to tell them apart. In some cases, certain shells may be more rare than others.

You can be general and say, “I found a scallop shell.”, or be specific and say, “I found a Lion’s paw!”

Some Shells Are Easy to Identify

And then there are some shells that are not confusing at all. They have their own specific shape and / or coloring and I will know right away what it is.

The Jacknkife clam comes to mind and the Stout tagelus. Both are long shells. The Jackknife is long, like a big fingernail. That’s what my kids and I used to call them. The Tagelus is also long, but wider.

On the West coast of Florida, the spotted Junonia certainly stands out.

I found this Turkey Wing shell on the west coast. With it’s brown stripes and odd shape, is another type of shell that is easy to identify.

Turkey wing shells
Turkey Wing, my photo

But more on that later. For now I want to get started writing pages to help identify shells that look the same but are really not. I’m doing this to help myself as much as anyone.

I’ve been collecting lots of my own photos to do this, so lets get started! 


Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

Often I will pick up interesting pieces of seashells while beach-combing.  I’m getting better at identifying the pieces.  The more variety of shells I collect, the easier it becomes.  If the bit of shell baffles me at the seashore, I search it out in my favorite seashell book, or look through my seashell collection.

Seashells break for many reasons and some shells are more fragile than others.  The Channeled duck clam is thin and most of them are broken on top.  (It’s the white shell in the left-hand photo below.)

Usually it’s the surf and wave action that tumbles the shell until it breaks.  Birds can be the culprits too.  Whatever the reason, it can challenge the mind to picture bits as whole shells.  Usually I am sorry I missed seeing it as a whole, beautiful specimen.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.19.10 PM

While visiting Ponce Inlet, I brought home this large, smooth, brown bit of shell, and a smaller piece like it.  I wondered what it could have been originally. Continue reading Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

The Interesting Iridescent Pen Shell

pen shells
Pen Shells Found in Florida

Pen shells (family Pinnidae) are usually gray or brown in color with an iridescent sheen.  They are long and tapered in a triangular shape and most of the ones I’ve seen were on the east coast beaches in Florida.

They can be huge!  My resource book says up to thirty-one inches in length!   But many are found broken since they are a bit more fragile than an ordinary seashell.

The varieties found in Florida  include the Saw-toothed pen shell, Stiff pen shell and Amber pen shell.  The ones pictured here (photo by me) look like saw-toothed as they are smoother than the Stiff pen shell  which has ridges with spines.  Amber pen shells are lighter in color (hence the name).

Flag pen shells are wide and rounded on top and are found in the Indio-Pacific region.

The Noble Pen Shell (Pinna nobilis) has an unlikely history. It’s byssal threads (which anchor the shell in the sand when alive) were once used to make fabric. The threads were woven together to make what was known as “sea silk”. This large shell is found in the Mediterranean region and is in danger of extinction due to over use, pollution and decline in places for it to survive.

Identifying Similar Small Shells on Sanibel Island

English: Beach at Wulfert, Sanibel Island, Flo...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t live on Sanibel Island and I haven’t even visited the Island in Florida for almost 20 years, but fortunately I know of a great blogger who lives there and shares her shelling knowledge with the world.

Recently she posted some photos of four small, similar-looking seashells that she had collected from the beach and without a keen eye, you may think they were all the same.

Pam does a nice job of pointing out the differences between the Mauve-mouth drill, Pitted Murex, Ribbed Cantharus, and the Gulf Oyster Drill.  Go see!

The Unusual Shin-Bone Tibia Seashell Has a Long, Thin “Tail”

Tibia fusus Linnaeus, 1758 长笛螺 長鼻螺 長鼻鳳凰螺
Image by Easyparadise via Flickr

The Shin-bone Tibia shell is quite unique looking. It averages close to eight inches in length (20 cm.) and has a long, thing, extension, or tail that is not usually seen on shells. The Tibia fusus also has distinct “teeth” that are clearly seen jutting out from the opening.  The shell spirals to a point at the end and is tan and white.

I am especially happy to have come across pictures of this seashell as a reader of my Seashell Identification page asked about a shell that she described as looking like this one.  At the time, I had no idea what it could have been, but now I am quite sure this one must be it. Continue reading The Unusual Shin-Bone Tibia Seashell Has a Long, Thin “Tail”